Written in Blood by Chris Carter

Review of the thriller novel Written in Blood by Chris Carter.

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Written in Blood is the eleventh book to feature the detective Robert Hunter. The story revolves around a book, stolen by a pickpocket, that is full of details of gruesome murders. The case is passed to the Ultra-Violent Crimes Unit of the Los Angeles Police Department: Robert Hunter and his partner Carlos Garcia. The rest of the narrative is concerned with the killer trying to get his book back and the detectives trying to find out if there actually is a killer.

As this is the eleventh book to star Hunter the character should already be well-developed and well-thought out. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Both Hunter and Garcia are incredibly two-dimensional and lack any personality. There is nothing authentic in either character. The subsidiary characters are not worth mentioning especially Angela Wood, the supposed world’s greatest pick pocket. She has little personality and every time her name came up I had to look back in the text to find out who it was.

The killer very kindly leaves map co-ordinates to the bodies which help confirm to Hunter that there is a killer. The trouble is there is no excitement in finding bodies this way: two sweaty men digging in the hard earth, on their own as they haven’t taken back-up with them.

The way the novel is structured suggests that Mr Carter has taken a creative writing course and done really badly. I had to keep re-reading sections as I couldn’t remember the part I had just read. The repetition of words is really annoying. He mentions ‘high season’ four times in the first couple of pages. The author spends a good part of the book on unnecessary information, not even fluff. There is over a paragraph explaining why thick coats are good for pick pockets.

The actual base idea for the book was quite inventive, even though it has been done before. The careless killer losing his journal/diary. The conscientious thief passing said book to the police. The all-knowing killer who just wants his book back. The police always one or two steps behind. Will the hero survive against the odds. If it had been written better the book could have been a real triumph. There were also so many mistakes in the editing that the publisher should be ashamed.

I was really excited to read this book having been a massive fan of Chris Carter and Robert Hunter since his debut. I have been left bitterly disappointed. It feels as though Carter did not want to write this book and has only done so to honour his book deal. Having said all that, I know that Mr Carter suffered a huge personal tragedy while writing Written in Blood, it almost read like nobody gave him the time to process and begin the healing process he needed.

Cassidy grew up in Thanet and lives here with her family.

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